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The Rug Scuffle Shuffle

Kyle Mercer

March 10, 2018

Genre: Blues

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About This Song


An old-time 'euphemism blues' in the spirit of Bo Carter (if not the style), with an obvious nod to the great Leon Redbone.

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As always, any and all comments are welcome -- all the pieces I'm posting are rough work tapes and I need some fresh ears to listen to them for me. Thank you.


4 Responses


Frank Renfordt

I like your funny word play, however I’m not sure if I got everything. ‘Scuffle a/her rug’  - is it just nonsense or is it ambiguous?

March 15, 2018

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Kyle Mercer

Hi, Frank. I was wondering if I was going to get any questions about that. I suspect you’re not the only one who might be puzzled by the expression.

‘Scuffling the rug’ is intended to be an invented—and somewhat antiquated—euphemism for sex. There’s an entire genre of old blues songs—highlighted by the work of Bo Carter—that revolved around that kind of thing.

Now you don’t hear Americans use the word ‘scuffle’ much anymore and when you do, it’s usually referring to some sort of fight.

But when I was growing up in East Texas, it was often treated as a synonym for ‘messing something up.’ Say I wiped my feet on the entrance rug and left it disheveled, my mother or grandmother would yell at me for having ‘scuffled the rug.’

And ‘rug’ and ‘carpet’ are old euphemisms for female pubic hair. For example, if a brunette woman dyed her hair blonde, it was said that the ‘drapes didn’t match the rug.’ Also antiquated, given contemporary grooming practices here in America.

But it was an old fashioned sort of song and so I thought it called for an old fashioned sort of vocabulary. (And given the minimal amount of text we get to work with in a song, it seems to me that vocabulary choices are one of the most powerful tools we have to help us define our song narrators quickly and efficiently.)

Of course, the downside of using obscure references is that nobody knows what the hell you’re talking about…

March 15, 2018

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Frank Renfordt

Hi Kyle, I thought as much, but never heard the expression before. Thank you for your detailed explanation. I admire your knowledge of these old style music and lyrics, you are really a specialist. Do you write books about that stuff? If not - you should consider that.
I’m far from a native speaker’s level and have to keep my lyrics simple. But language is something I’m into.

March 16, 2018

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Kyle Mercer

Gee, Frank, I’m not sure you should encourage my detailed explanations—my comments here at Frettie already seem to take up too many column-inches as it is.

Funny thing, in real life I’m a quiet guy who almost never has anything to say. (Of course, in real life, people just mostly talk about the weather or the game last night or what they had for lunch. Talking about music is much more interesting.)

And I would imagine a person would have to be VERY into language to learn to handle English as well as you do. I don’t think most Americans understand what a difficult language ours is to learn—a huge lexicon, highly irregular spellings and pronunciations, a host of idiomatic expressions and a flexibility that allows us to change a verb into a noun or a noun into a verb simply by juggling a word’s position in a sentence.

I don’t know about German, but the Romantic-based European languages I’ve studied, like Italian and Spanish, don’t provide those sort of trials and tribulations.

And so I figure you must be some sort of linguistic genius to write lyrics in this tongue. I remember trying to translate little bits of theater or short stories back in the days when I was studying languages and that was hard enough—but to try to do that while maintaining a rhyme scheme? Wow…

March 17, 2018

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Frank Renfordt

I like your funny word play, however I’m not sure if I got everything. ‘Scuffle a/her rug’  - is it just nonsense or is it ambiguous?

March 15, 2018

0

Kyle Mercer

Hi, Frank. I was wondering if I was going to get any questions about that. I suspect you’re not the only one who might be puzzled by the expression.

‘Scuffling the rug’ is intended to be an invented—and somewhat antiquated—euphemism for sex. There’s an entire genre of old blues songs—highlighted by the work of Bo Carter—that revolved around that kind of thing.

Now you don’t hear Americans use the word ‘scuffle’ much anymore and when you do, it’s usually referring to some sort of fight.

But when I was growing up in East Texas, it was often treated as a synonym for ‘messing something up.’ Say I wiped my feet on the entrance rug and left it disheveled, my mother or grandmother would yell at me for having ‘scuffled the rug.’

And ‘rug’ and ‘carpet’ are old euphemisms for female pubic hair. For example, if a brunette woman dyed her hair blonde, it was said that the ‘drapes didn’t match the rug.’ Also antiquated, given contemporary grooming practices here in America.

But it was an old fashioned sort of song and so I thought it called for an old fashioned sort of vocabulary. (And given the minimal amount of text we get to work with in a song, it seems to me that vocabulary choices are one of the most powerful tools we have to help us define our song narrators quickly and efficiently.)

Of course, the downside of using obscure references is that nobody knows what the hell you’re talking about…

March 15, 2018

0

Frank Renfordt

Hi Kyle, I thought as much, but never heard the expression before. Thank you for your detailed explanation. I admire your knowledge of these old style music and lyrics, you are really a specialist. Do you write books about that stuff? If not - you should consider that.
I’m far from a native speaker’s level and have to keep my lyrics simple. But language is something I’m into.

March 16, 2018

0

Kyle Mercer

Gee, Frank, I’m not sure you should encourage my detailed explanations—my comments here at Frettie already seem to take up too many column-inches as it is.

Funny thing, in real life I’m a quiet guy who almost never has anything to say. (Of course, in real life, people just mostly talk about the weather or the game last night or what they had for lunch. Talking about music is much more interesting.)

And I would imagine a person would have to be VERY into language to learn to handle English as well as you do. I don’t think most Americans understand what a difficult language ours is to learn—a huge lexicon, highly irregular spellings and pronunciations, a host of idiomatic expressions and a flexibility that allows us to change a verb into a noun or a noun into a verb simply by juggling a word’s position in a sentence.

I don’t know about German, but the Romantic-based European languages I’ve studied, like Italian and Spanish, don’t provide those sort of trials and tribulations.

And so I figure you must be some sort of linguistic genius to write lyrics in this tongue. I remember trying to translate little bits of theater or short stories back in the days when I was studying languages and that was hard enough—but to try to do that while maintaining a rhyme scheme? Wow…

March 17, 2018


The Rug Scuffle Shuffle

Written by Kyle Mercer

Got me a gal
She got a wood peg leg
She kind of grumpy, kind of lumpy
But she gives it away
She likes to scuffle the rug
We scuffle 'round on her rug
She give me kisses and hugs
Squeeze me tight as a bug
And lets me scuffle her rug

I know this gal
Who wears a patch on one eye
Might be Neanderthal old
But she's easy as pie
She likes to scuffle the rugs
She lets me scuffle her rug
She gives me kisses and hugs
A little wink, a little tug
And lets me scuffle that rug

Some gals are pretty
Got sweet pieces and bits
But what good are they to you
When she won't do the splits?
I'd trade ten cover girl mugs
For one that scuffles the rugs

Got me a gal
I can't remember her name
There ain't a tooth in her head
But she's always game
She likes to scuffle a rug
Gal lives to scuffle the rug
She gives me kisses and hugs
Jiggles them jugs
And begs me scuffle her rug

Some gals are pretty
But it's all just a tease
Give me a girl with carpet burns on her knees
You keep your cover girl mugs
My baby scuffles the rugs

Found me this gal
She 'bout as ugly as sin
We're talking warts on her nose
We're talking beards on her chins
But she can scuffle a rug
Can tear a hole in a rug
I give her kisses and hugs
I squeeze her tight as a bug
She lets me scuffle her rug
I give her kisses. give her hugs
Squeeze her tight as a bug
She lets me scuffle the rug

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